The 2018 NFL league year is upon us and with that, the hustle and bustle that was the legal tampering period is over and teams can make their reported free agency signings official. With the dust settling from a few hectic days of reports, we at Pro Football Focus take an in depth look at some of free agency's biggest deals in our exclusive 2018 Free Agency Deal Grader.
Taken into our deal grades here are many contributing factors, including but not limited to scheme fit for the player signed, contract value and salary cap hit, PFF's overall grades for both player and team, and several other facets.
For more in depth insight all the league's free agents, check out the 2018 PFF Free Agent Guide, a part of your PFF Edge or Elite subscription.
Richard Sherman signs with the San Francisco 49ers
Contract details: 3-year, $27-million
What it means for Sherman:
Richard Sherman has been a model of consistency since day one for the Seahawks, allowing below a 50 percent completion percentage into his coverage in all but one season (where it was 51.8), and never allowing a passer rating into his coverage of more than 75.5 (in 2017).
Sherman can debilitate opposing offenses by staying on the opponent’s right side for an entire game (as he did for most of 2017) or shadow their best receiver all over the field (as he did against the Jets, Falcons, Bucs, Rams, and Cardinals in 2016). He’s gone 94 consecutive games without surrendering 100 yards into his coverage and will allow the 49ers to lean less-heavily on their bets that 2017 third-rounder Ahkello Witherspoon (81.1 PFF grade), 2017 free-agent acquisition K’Waun Williams (80.2), and veteran Jaquiski Tartt (85.8) will build upon their solid showings in 2017 as they head into a 2018 with higher expectations for team success.
What it means for San Francisco:
Sherman’s contract reportedly has only $3 million in fully guaranteed money, which, along with the fact that the San Francisco 49ers still have a top-10 salary cap situation, leaves them relatively protected should Sherman fail to live up to the standard he’s set for himself historically.
In a passing league increasingly reliant on sub-packages, it would be a sage move for John Lynch and company to add one more player at the position through free agency or the draft. Luckily for them, the market has plenty of options should they choose to add another veteran to their stable of cornerbacks. At pick nine in the draft, players like Josh Jackson (Iowa), Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama) and Denzel Ward (Ohio State) are likely to be available, should they look that way.
While there are certainly question marks about Sherman’s health and the 49ers defense in general, there’s no doubt he can have a substantial impact on the 49ers fortunes in the NFC West in 2018. Pass coverage is the most-important aspect of defensive football, and the very best players can ring in around a win or so above replacement level. If Sherman has that kind of impact, and Garoppolo fulfills his lofty expectations, look for San Francisco to bring an excitement to their fan base unseen since Sherman effectively ended the Jim Harbaugh era with his signature pass breakup in the 2013 NFC Championship Game in Seattle.